WARNER ROBINS -- Members of Westside Church of Christ say the church was formed in 1961 by a group meeting on Commercial Circle.
Theres no recollection exactly when Westside moved to its current location on the corner of Willow Avenue and North Houston Boulevard, but agreement is it was before 1973. They first met there in a metal building that was later bricked with additional classrooms added.
Lee Hyatt, evangelist at the church, said Churches of Christ are independent, autonomous bodies governed by elders. He said the church and similar Churches of Christ are not a denomination, though they fellowship with one another and like-minded churches, and that no money is sent upstream to a denominational headquarters, nor pooled between churches for charitable or missionary work.
In fact, members said based on Westsides view of Scripture, church funds arent to be spent for charitable or related activities. Instead, individual members are encouraged to be involved personally in giving and doing good works in the community. The church does support missionaries working in other locations.
We do care deeply about our nation, our city and neighborhoods and believe in being good neighbors, Hyatt said. We have people who are active in all sorts of ways in the community and pray for our leaders and neighbors. At Westside, were a cross section of professional, blue collar and all types of people, but when we come together were all united by our common beliefs.
Hyatt said Westside focuses on evangelism and building up members through teaching the Bible. He said his primary role as teacher and preacher is to encourage the brethren to be the type of Christians you read of in the New Testament. The church offers a free Bible course available to all through its website.
John Lawrence has been a member at Westside since the early 1990s. He spoke of the churchs situation and views regarding church government.
The Lord prescribed the organization of the local church to be under a plurality of elders, he said. That poses a problem because right now we dont have elders. The New Testament has specific requirements and until we meet those requirements we dont have elders. We dont have those who meet (those requirements) and have a willingness to serve. Now, in order to make decisions, men from the church meet and collectively decide the direction for this congregation.
Hyatt said the term pastor is not used for his role since it is the same term as is used for elder, overseer or bishop. He said an evangelist is someone dedicated to teaching the word of God. As evangelist he is just like any other member of the congregation, with no authority to make decisions on his own apart from others in the church.
Hyatt said hopefully the first thing visitors experience at Westside is a warm, cordial welcome. He said services typically entail a few announcements and updates concerning members, Scripture reading, weekly taking of the Lords Supper, prayers and a sermon from Gods word. Worship is a cappella with no musical instruments, which Westside sees no precedent for in the New Testament.
He said there are age-appropriate Bible classes for all.
As far as salvation, individuals are saved by Gods grace, Hyatt said. With that said, in Scripture there are conditions we must meet to receive salvation, like faith, repentance, confession and baptism for the remission of sins. Then we join together with a local church and remain faithful to the Lord for the rest of our lives through continual obedience. Its not a one-time event; its a lifelong commitment to the Lord.
Contact Michael W. Pannell at firstname.lastname@example.org.